Let's Find our Carman Maranda!
We get this alert in Colorado that masks are strongly suggested now. So, of course I get on the internet and check out how to make one. OMG, there are like a bazillion different ways to cover one’s mouth and it seems like it’s suddenly the great American past time. Natch, I, of course, went immediately to my studio at about 5:30 AM the next morning and got the sewing machine out too.
I crank up NPR and listen to all the latest news about the mask issue as I start vetting sample designs, I’d downloaded online the night before. Luckily, I had a huge trash bag of cloths I was just about to donate. So, there were lots of fabrics to choose from. Meanwhile people are calling into NPR asking for help and volunteers and it seems like WW2 as Americas gear up help the troops.
I lay everything out. All the stuff required to start making masks—total over kill. I’m a big planner who hates having to start or stop in order to hunt for a tool or an element. So, if it had anything to do with sewing, I had it ready to go. Let the games begin!
The cotton mask with the darts was way to scratchy and looked like a bra cup--creepy. Nope.
The pleated one with the insert pocket felt like waring a Huggies dipper on my face. No way.
The one with the two ties? Yeah, like I’m goinna do THAT every time I leave the house.
Then there was the one with the hair scrunchies adapted to loop over each ear. Zip Zip—Done. I put it on and in about a minute, my ears turned red. OMG!
Finally, I realized that I’d have to take matters into my own hands.
I discovered a soft pullover jersey in the cloths pile and remembered that if you cut men’s support dress socks into strips, they create their own very strong, ultra-soft loops. So, after about three tries, I made a mask that was just perfect. Very plush, two ply, washable and super comfortable in a rather Bandito-chic sort of way. I made four of them, feeling quite pleased with myself.
By dawn, I was ready to go out into the world doing my part to stay protected. When I opened my shop door, the sun had come up and the parking lot (I share with the next-door supper market) was full. Ah, the toilet paper people!
I figured I’d stop over there too get eggs, totally expecting to see everyone in masks. After all the decree had been official and at least the people calling in to NPR were taking it seriously.
Lo and behold not a single person was wearing a mask. Not a one. Now I could expect this in Florida where my sister lives and says many there still think all this is some kind of democratic hoax. But here in Colorado? Well, our governor had ignored anything coming out of the white house months before things escalated and consequently, we’re doing the best job in the nation according to the recent polls. So, umm, where the hell are the masks, people???
I was furious. I’d been up forever in my mask sweat shop and here no one gave a s**t?
I then passed the frozen food section as my reflection rippled down the aisle superimposed over Sara Lee, Pillsbury and DiGiorno. In a sea of mostly white Caucasian faces, this little Italian looked like a dang terrorist bomber or a bank robber at best.
I knee jerked. I grabbed the mask off my face and stuffed it into my pocket.
“Oh, I get it, THAT’S why no one’s wearing a mask!”
Thankfully by the time I got to the end of the frozen food section and stopped for a minute I realized that it wasn’t just that people were being cavalier or ignorant as I’d just judged them no more than a few minutes ago.
“It’s a social thing stupid,” I whispered to myself.
We’ve all gotten so used to trying to fit in and escape through life under the radar screen that wearing a mask? Well one might as well be wearing a foam banana hat or something.
“Ah, it’s like the toilet paper thing,” I mused. We don’t need that much but because everyone else thinks they do… we start hoarding too.
After years of discrimination and profiling that continues to plague this country could it be our damn prodigious and vanity that could ultimately kills us?
I grabbed my mask back out of my pocket and put it back on now, totally furious with myself.
Me, of all people had, for one brief moment, totally bailed when it comes peer pressure? Me, one of the very first gay men ever to host a daily national television show? Seriously?
YET, sadly, I totally get it. While this mask thing is still being positioned as an “elective” (don’t get me started!) the truth is, it’s easy to feel stupid if you’re the only one wearing one. Your head starts spinning the minute you’re eyed the wrong way. You fill in the gaps, thinking that THEY think you’re a total hypochondriac paranoid looser as it draws way too much attention to yourself. I GET IT! I did too (blush). Yup!
So, here’s the thing folks, we have to start somewhere. We know it’s a good thing and makes totally sense. We’re in the middle of a pandemic for heaven sake! But let’s just ALSO acknowledge that it’s easier said then done too. We’re humans. We want to fit in. After all, we try all our lives to find our tribe.
Now in a divided atmosphere with a lot of misinformation out there wearing masks are unmasking a deeper truth too-- It smacks us right in the face and shows us how emotionally fragile we ALL are. --Something that’s way too far out of our comfort zone. I GET IT…and now we ALL have to get it…and get over it!
What good’s all those people on the front lines if we can’t even wrap a frigg’n scarf around our faces in front of people who are actually total strangers?
So PLEASE…Get one. Make one. Put the dang thing on and give a thumbs up to the next person you see having the courage to do the same.